Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vietnam & Cambodia 2014

Say yes to cool Angkor & Huda beer - just US$0.50 per can

 " No dream is too big, so don't be afraid to chase it "

" Remember you had retired but not fired. You have now take on a new path & re-fired "

" Let your dreams be bigger than your fears, your actions louder than your words, and your faith stronger than your feeling "

" My 10 days solo visit to Vietnam & Cambodia ( Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh, Hue, Danang & Hoi An ) from 3-12/1/2014 - my 2nd visit to Vietnam and Cambodia & once again saying Good Morning to Vietnam & Good Day to Cambodia "

Travel itinerary: Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) > Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam > Phnom Penh, Cambodia > Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam > Hue > Danang > Hoi An > Danang > Ho Chi Minh City > Kuala Lumpur

Total expenses incurred ( 10 days ): US$407 = Rm1,340

Air Asia ticket: Rm$474.00 =US$144 (KL>HCM 12.00>12.55 HCM>KL 10.35>13.25)
Airport bus: Rm$10 (KL Sentral>LCCT)
Hotels: US$78.50 (7 nights)
Food: US$45
Trains: US$71
Buses: US$31
Tuktuk: US$12 
Motorbike: US$1
Entrance fees: US$18.30
Exchange rate: US$1=21,080vnd (dong); Rm$1=6,407vnd; US$1=Rm$3.29 (Malaysian Ringgit); RM$1=1,220 Riel 

In Oct 2006, I visited Siem Reap of Cambodia and spent a total of 4 days just to see Angkor Wat & Tonle Sap Lake . Angkor Wat (the mother of all temples) was one of the Seven Great Wonders of the World and a must see if you plan to visit Cambodia. As for Vietnam, I visited Hanoi, Halong Bay & Catba Island in May 2007 (6 days). 

So for this visit, my main focus was to explore their capital cities ie Phnom Penh (Cambodia) & Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) and also extended my stay to see Hue, Danang & Hoi An in Central Vietnam.

For those who intend to visit Cambodia & Vietnam, the 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites ie Angkor Wat, Halong Bay, Hue & Hoi An are likely to be the favorite places they like to see - as for me, I have been there, done that & move on ....... 

We had a rather depressing & distressing experience after a visit to the Killing Field of Choeung Ek & Tuol Sieng Museum in Phnom Pehn. This sort of experience was also been felt when I visited the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Krakow, Poland in May 2010. Likewise, one could gain a better perspective on the Vietnam War (1965-1973) by visiting the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh city .

January is probably a good time to visit these two countries as the weather during the day & night is pretty cool & pleasant . Land transport is convenient ie by bus from HCM city to Phonm Penh & by train to Central & North Vietnam.

Food including drinks & hotel accommodation are reasonably cheap. You will enjoy eating the Khmer curry dishes, Vietnamese pho (rice noodles), nem (spring rolls) & local drinks such as coffee, beer & fruit juices. 

So bring along a stack of US dollars and be merry and have fun the moment you land in Cambodia & Vietnam ! Celebrate your arrival for a start with a jar of cool Angkor & Hanoi beer !!!

A glorious past - the mighty Khmer Empire

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Uncle Ho Chi Minh - a great hero in Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam (UNESCO world heritage site)

an ancient 18th century Gate of The Citadel

Danang, Vietnam

the dragon bridge - very scenic at night

Hoi An, Vietnam (UNESCO world heritage site)

the famed Japanese bridge, built in 1590s

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

King Norodom Sihanouk's Monument

My qigong mate from USJ11, Mr Choy who was my travel buddy for this 10 day trip to Vietnam & Cambodia - keep smiling & another dream fulfilled ! 

A big thank you to you , Mr Choy for your friendship
everlasting smiles !

Just yell at me if you choose wealth or health or both !

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2014)

Total expenses incurred (3 days): 1,192,000vnd + US$22 =US$78.50 (Rm258)

Hotel (Long Hostel) : US$11 x 2 = US$22
Food: 276,000vnd
Entrance fee: 15,000vnd (War Remanent Museum) + 15,000vnd (Ho Chi Minh Museum) + 30,000vnd (Independence Palace) = 60,000vnd
Airport shuttle bus (No 152) : 10,000 x 2 = 20,000vnd (Airport>Ho Chi Minh city + HCM city>Airport)
Train: 761,000vnd (Saigon>Hue) 
Bus: US$11 (Ho Chi Minh city>Phnom Penh)
Taxi: 50,000vnd (Hotel>Saigon train station) + 25,000vnd (Saigon train station>Hotel) = 75,000vnd

Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Ga Saigon ( Train Station)

Saigon train station
the start of our 17.5 hr train ride from Saigon to Hue
air-conditioned, TV & soft seat

Saigon Traffic - horrendous but a terrific experience !

when the going is tough, the tough gets going
the entire street in HCM selling motorbikes only
crossing Saigon streets require PR skills !
Notre Dame Cathedral

built in 1877 - am I in Paris ?
People's Committee Building

HCM monument, colonial bldg, national flag, Vietnam's pride
Ho Chi Minh Monument

Uncle of the Vietnamese People (1890-1969)
Union Square

Ben Thanh Market

local & tourists favorite shopping place - built in 1914

Museum of Ho Chi Minh City ( Revolutionary Museum )

built in 1886 - amazing building
the anti colonial movement by activists
the communist struggle for power

Independence Palace


War Remnants Museum 

US armored vehicles, infantry weapons, planes, helicopters on display outside of the museum

Artillery pieces, bombs, shells & mines on display inside of the museum

Tiger cages in exhibition

Photos of war correspondents & photographers died during the Vietnam war

Highlights of  pictures & photos taken during the Vietnam war


Pictures of deformed children caused by the widespread use of chemical herbicides

Vietnamese death caused by the Vietnam war

58,000 US troops died during the Vietnam war
Statements made by relevant authorities on the Vietnam war


Long Hostel, 373/10 Pham Ngu Lao St, Ho Chi Minh City

 15 mins walk from the Ben Thanh market - not a Long walk
lots of hostels for you to choose along the Pham Ngu Lao St
US$22 for a standard twin private en suite
free breakfast - banana crepe & coffee

Happy hours - grab a beer or coffee & let's chat till the wee hours

waiting for a mid-night Vietcong to show up ?
if you're tired, just relax & enjoy a local beer or coffee
Bia College in HCM - a diploma course in beer drinking ?

Tasty Vietnamese Food & Drink - just eat & eat; drink & drink ( a cool beer, please - you will end up as a professional beer drinker when in Vietnam ) !

drink until you walk like a mud crab !
 Pho for breakfast, lunch & dinner ?
US$2.30 for a hot Pho beef noodle
US$2.40 for a bowl of beef ball Pho rice noodle
US$3.80 for 2 pcs of spring rolls & a plate of pork chop
US$1.50 for a plate of mixed rice with vege & frog meat
US$4.50 for this dinner vegetable meal for 2
US$7 for 3 plates each of savory rice rolls & pork paste

Mobile food vendors - street food nicely prepared for you, very appetizing

US$0.75 for a grilled pork/bread
don't be shy, please put one into your mouth !
2 in 1; assorted street food & sim card !